This book looked like an interesting one to read following Letters of a Woman Homesteader. It’s set a generation later, about two young women from East Coast high society who attended Smith College and then found themselves uninterested in any suitors after returning from their ‘grand tour’ of Europe. They heard of a remote settlement in the mountains of Colorado that was looking for schoolteachers, and decided to go. It was a sparsely populated area of homesteading families that lived off the land in relative poverty. Apparently the local cowboys suffered from a lack of female attention, so they decided to build a school and advertise for teachers, hoping that every few years a new young teacher would arrive and eventually become someone’s bride! Well, I didn’t read long enough to see if either of these two women in the book married a cowboy. The story is very well-researched (written by a descendent of one of the teachers) and based on numerous letters to and from family members, but it was just- too much information in a way. There was a lot about the history of the area, how the railroad was built, how the school building was planned, all about the family connections the schoolteachers had, and their own early education, and their Grand Tour and so on. What I really wanted to read about was their experience going from formal dinners in expensive dining rooms to bare planked drafty houses that had hung blankets for room dividers. I read the first three chapters with diminishing interest, then skipped ahead to dip into some about the teachers’ actual time in the classroom with their students. It seemed no better. I couldn’t keep my eyes on the page. Something about the style, or the abundance of extraneous detail. This one just wasn’t for me.
Funny enough, I noticed that in one of the chapters about their youth, one of the teachers had read every book written by James Fenimore Cooper- she was a big fan. And both these women had read Letters of a Woman Homesteader, admired and hoped to emulate Elinor Stewart. In fact there was a hefty chunk of quoted passages from the other book in here. Sadly this one just wasn’t as engaging and personable.
I would have liked to know the same things you were interested in, especially if the town’s plan had worked and the women ended up married (I suspect it would have worked? The women’s options would be narrowed down to the town).
I’m sure those things were somewhere in the text, it was just getting through all the historical details and things about who their family knew and other stuff when I was more interested in the personal story of the two teachers . . .